MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers Sunday called on President Aquino to immediately give the go signal for the rapid deployment of modular steel bridges to areas in Visayas and Mindanao that were heavily battered by the recent series of typhoons and earthquakes.
Visayas solons led by Negros Oriental Rep. Henry Pryde Teves said the swift installation of steel bridges will restore economic activity and speed up the rehabilitation of calamity-hit areas. On the other hand, former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel noted that numerous bridges in the calamity-hit areas were destroyed and few were repaired to their original condition thus hampering the recovery of affected communities.
''We just had (typhoon) ''Sendong'' in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan destroying some 12 bridges; Magnitude 6.9 earthquake destroyed another 32 bridges in Negros Oriental. Most of which are concrete which cannot be re-installed like Lego-type steel modular bridges of Mabey or Eiffel,'' Pimentel said referring to the French and British firms that have been supplying bridges to the country since the early 1990s.
He also said there are some 5,000 Agricultural Reform Communities (ARCs) that need vital bridges to market. ''Imagine the national government spends about P12 billion annually to assist these ARCs in the Visayas and Mindanao but lands are mostly underproductive due to lack of bridges, transport/labor costs attributed to going down the ravine simply wipes out the surplus income hoped for the farmer.''
Pimentel said modular steel bridges cost less than domestic concrete bridges if time value of money of the national government is borrowing rate is computed on locally funded projects.
Teves urged the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to seriously consider the activation of an emergency bridge calamity response unit under the President's Bridge Program (PBP), for implementation and management by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Also, the DPWH is eyeing the completion of at least 11 road sections along the national roads in the country before President Aquino steps down in 2016.
Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said this target is possible, as he vowed to fully implement the road project through the transformation program now deeply entrenched in the DPWH. This was announced by Singson as the DPWH is set to implement the P6.24-billion Road Improvement and Institutional Development Project (RIIDP) for the preservation of the national road infrastructure network.
Singson cited that the project intends to enhance the efficiency of the movement of goods and people, which will contribute to sustainable economic growth.
The project is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and co-financed by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). Starting next month, the DPWH will repair the road sections along nine national roads located in the west coast of Luzon, Visayas and northern coast of Mindanao.